Exploring Inner Space


Exploring Inner Space

The Dark Continent Made Light

The Ways In


‘I started doing Yoga some twelve years ago – from a book by Yesudian. I did it only for a few months – but with benefit, after initial negative effects. Didn’t do any for several years, but started again 2½ years ago, getting nowhere on my own, so joined a class run by a B.K.S. Iyengar pupil. Again no benefit, and gave up when sciatica was consistently worsened by the specific exercises advised for me. Since then I have started again endless times – and given up – because after nearly every session, I end up confused, very bad tempered, with red and blue spots before my eyes, needing to swallow much too often, and very cold and shivery for about half an hour after. Now, I know this has probably to do with tension, and I try and try to relax while doing the exercises, but to no avail. I end up a hysterical mess.’

So writes a woman; and if you are wondering what is behind her experience, the answer is – she is exploring inner space!

Another persons experience:

“It was with much interest that I read the article by Tony Crisp in the May issue of YOGA  & HEALTH concerning the Chakras.

Many years ago, over a period of about two years, I had constant experiences of the shaking and trembling which  Mr. Crisp described in his article. I was very young at the time, happily married with a baby daughter, and although considered to be highly strung, was neither repressed nor mentally disturbed. See Vibrate Vibrating Shake Shaking

These ‘attacks’ would come upon me almost every night. I would be quite relaxed … and then the quivering would start, very gently at first. It would begin in my toes and then  gradually  work  upwards throughout the whole of my body until it increased in intensity until I seemed to be one great overwhelming vibration. At this point I would feel that some thing or some power was trying to take over, and I would sweat with the effort of holding onto myself. There seemed also to be a great void full of brown light opening beneath me into which I could feel myself sinking.

I  saw  several  doctors  and specialists (my family were very worried about me) but they could find nothing wrong; the symptoms were something they could not account  for  at  all,  and they eventually decided that my strange condition was due to ‘nerves’.

Eventually  the  experiences ceased, but very soon afterwards, I began to be very interested in Yoga with which I have now been actively  associated  for  nearly twenty years.

Deep within my heart, I knew that what I had experienced all those years ago was not due to ‘nerves’, and am now convinced that, had I not been overcome with fear, I would have been fortunate enough  to  undergo some enlightening spiritual experience.

Because  of  this  knowledge, although practising Hatha Yoga for physical and mental fitness, the real area of my interest lies in the study of Yoga as a whole … as a way of life and as a path towards enlightenment and liberation. And I know too that the experience I had thought to be meaningless and frightening had after all a meaning far beyond my comprehension. Thank you Tony Crisp for confirming and deepening my belief. Mrs. J”

In case you find this difficult to believe or understand, let me give you more examples. A few weeks ago a man and woman asked to be shown how to enter their own inner space – that is, how to start exploring their own unknown self for the purpose of healing problems, finding personal growth, and realising their eternal nature. These people were using the LifeStream approach; or better still see Life’s Little Secrets.

After a few minutes the man began to tremble as if shivering. He complained of feeling cold, and at first believed this was the cause of his movements. This shivering or vibration is one of the commonest signs of going within ourselves, but as the man in question allowed it to develop, it became spontaneous movements of the shoulders, leading to coughing.

The woman did not experience trembling, but began with arm movements. These led to full body move­ments, and she then experienced what follows:

Tony explained to us about letting whatever came, come. I did not understand too well, but lay down with the others and he came to each of us briefly and moved our arms, and left us lying. Perhaps two minutes passed when I felt a distinct twitching around my brow, which was repeated, and then it spread down my face, a downward pressing movement. My face was involved then in a big muscular movement, pressing down, seeming to flatten the face, and then spread down the body towards the feet. Gradually my whole body became involved in big waves of pressing movement which flowed down, lifting and tossing my legs, so that my heels were banging on the floor. Wave succeeded wave. I did as he said, and let it happen, using the skills to relax which I had learnt. I wasn’t afraid, although I couldn’t imagine what was happening to me. Instead I felt happy and elated, warmed through. I knew I had found something of great significance, but it was many months before I could put words to it. It remained an intriguing mystery, like a dropping away of chains, or a touching of promise, while I passed through the pain of divorce. I feel that my experience that day released considerable energy. It did not break my marriage – that would have happened anyway. But I received strength which I used for my needs at that time. Months later it came to me with the force of revelation, that I had been born that day.”

This woman was also exploring inner space, in quite a competent way. Maybe she was more of an intrepid explorer. After all, although men are acknowledged as masters of outer exploration, women have, throughout history, been regarded as more able to discover the inner universe. In ancient Greece the Sibyls and Oracles were women. Shamans or witch doctors, of various climes, often dressed as women in recognition of their superior faculties in this realm. In Africa today, some of the greatest traditional spiritual guides are women.

The yoga traditions, not the commonly held view of yoga in the West, says that there are several levels of yoga practice.  In order to become worthy of the teachings, the student must first fulfil the moral requirements called the yamas and niyamas, which are the moral prerequisites to the study of Yoga. This is followed by the practice of asanas (postures), and there only thirty-two Asanas that give perfection in this mortal world.

But asanas are only a step on the way of preparation to uniting the huge unknown world within us to our conscious self. But postures need to be done to perfection. By ‘perfection’ I mean the state of accomplishment given by Vyasa, “posture becomes perfect when effort to that end ceases, so that there may be no more movement of the body.” The requirement that the posture must be held for three hours is the chief difficulty and makes intelligible why it took so long to achieve it. Quoted from Theos Bernard’s book Hatha Yoga

 The next step is pranayama – control of the breathe. The methods that follow are to allow spontaneous movements and then to achieve enlightenment – the uniting of the huge self with the tiny self – yoga means uniting. And any of the steps can lead to the experiences mentioned above. It is a way of clearing obstacles leading to enlightenment.

When Stanley travelled the Nile and found its source, he, as it were, travelled inwards from the obvious and the known, to the hidden and obscure. He met many difficulties, barriers, fears and delays, but he made it.

There is a trite saying that men and women today are no longer conquering the West – exploring Africa, or pioneering new lands. They are not even, except by proxy, exploring the Moon. But what they are beginning to do is to travel inwards to explore inner space, and pioneer the dark continent of the mind. Some come back with strange tales. Some come back with gold. Some just don’t come back! Explorers always faced that risk, but it only stopped a few. We have often heard it said that, “Space is the final frontier” – well I see that as rubbish because we are all scared stiff of crossing the real final frontier – our own inner world full of fears and images of zombies and monsters. See Self-Regulation – Homeostasis – People’s Experience of LifeStream

Many people as their awareness reaches beyond what they feel is their normal self feel scared. Such resistances cause us to create awful dreams and fears as a means of avoiding our own inner world and its wonders. We feel that we will be swallowed up and we will die. It is important to say that when we meet the experience of powerlessness through becoming aware of the hugeness of your Life, which we are usually unaware if, it feels like something alien or attacking, and it is a shock. See

When we begin to meet the Hugeness that we are within us, we often react to it in our dreams or in waking with fear or panic. So we dream of being attacked by aliens or frightening creatures; or being swallowed by a whale or something huge, a tsunami, or even possessed by evil entities.

In the old days one followed a rumour, a trail, or like Columbus, an obstinate belief. Or maybe, like Stanley, they followed a river. Most modern explorers of inner space do much the same thing, although there are a lot of guide books about now.

In fact, the hardiness, experience and confidence we have gained as a race, from outer exploration, fits us out for the inner adventure. For Freud, the rumour or trail that led inwards were slips of the tongue, spontaneous associations, and dreams. These were the obvious parts of the ‘Nile’ which if traced back, would lead to their source. But let us look at the three people mentioned and see what trail they followed.

With the first woman it is not obvious what trail she followed, but this point will be covered later. Yet, she has really told us outright – she took up Yoga, and it is only after doing Yoga this happened. And surely this is a slap in the face for many Hatha Yoga teachers. For remember, Hatha Yoga is one of the age old and well trodden paths of entering inner space. That the person who teaches it has never used it for such doesn’t mean a thing. If they know nothing about the inner journey, it simply means they will not be able to help those who, through the very method they are teaching, are precipitated unwarned into inner space.

I speak from experience, because I was thrust into inner space by practising Hatha Yoga and the other levels of yoga. To use it without realising this possibility and understanding just what inner effects the different postures and breathing techniques have, is like using a car as a holiday caravan, and being terrified when you accidentally touch the starter and it leaps off down the beach and plunges into the sea!

If you are going to treat Yoga like a pet tiger, make sure you can meet it when it is full grown. But don’t worry too much: most people do not practise with enough discipline, frequency or perseverance to touch the hidden starter. But I did have a woman write to me who, following the Hittleman series, suddenly felt an electric current rush through her body, and was scared for weeks. Maybe all this still sounds a little confusing, so I had better fill in a few details, because exploring inner space is a natural event at a certain point in our development.

Youth naturally explores sex or sexual feelings during adolescence.  Well, when we have matured to a certain point, the inner exploration with its healing and integrating outcome we have discussed here, is as natural and imperative as sexuality during adolescence. It can of course, be either as disturbing or expanding an experience as puberty, depending upon what attitudes we bring to it.

Carrying on with this analogy of puberty, no one has to develop puberty by effort of will. Likewise, one does not go on the inner journey by will power or ego effort. The life processes, in their gradual maturing, bring us to adolescence. Spiritual growth is not some strange thing we graft onto our natural growth: it is merely a continuation of our ordinary growth and maturing. Unfortunately most of us have got the idea we have to develop it, or force ourselves to be ‘good’ or ‘noble’ or ‘spiritual’. The baby does not force itself to walk or talk. The adolescent doesn’t force the outflow of sexual feeling; these arise as spontaneous parts of growing. So does the heightened and expanded awareness and love of spiritual consciousness.

The illusion has arisen because this further growth of the human soul needs us to decide, to choose, to make up our mind. We are faced with a choice between self-centered living, and Self centred living. And Self centred living means the gradual surrender of our self-centered life to an action pushing us toward something more.

To get back to what precipitated the woman into inner space, we have to understand what precipi­tates us into talking or walking or puberty. Well yes, it’s just Life working on and in us. But the stupid thing is we seldom ever have a close look at the process upon which we depend utterly and completely – namely, the Life Process.

Okay, so let’s not be technical or complicated, let’s just be practical. Without this process we would not exist; we wouldn’t grow; we wouldn’t develop and mature as an individual personality; and we wouldn’t be able to deal with illness or cuts, or digestion, or half a million other things going on in us all the time. Each of us grew from a tiny fertilised seed in our mother’s womb. Wisdom innate in that tiny cell, in your mother’s body and in how the universe works, enabled and directed the amazing journey of growth. That journey is perhaps the most incredible of any life form on our planet. From a very fundamental level of life your being moved from a single cell to a bundle of cells. Then it developed from being an aquatic creature toward forming a body capable of living in and breathing air. At birth you transformed from being fully immersed in water to breathing air and beginning independent life. See Levels of the Brain; Inner World

Something Worth Treating as Almost Holy

It’s fantastic, but we seldom ever even feel grateful or worship this amazing thing which created us, upholds us, heals us, grows us and even thinks, feels and works through us! What an ungrateful lot we are!

This is so important that I have to take a while to draw your attention to a fact that you may have overlooked, and upon which the successful exploration of inner space, or of puberty, or of growing up generally, depends- namely, we are ‘Self Regulating’!   Have mentioned above all the things the Life process does in us and to us spontaneously without our conscious help, but think of it a moment.

It is a natural process of self regulation that if we eat poison we will be sick. It is a natural process of self regulation that if our finger or throat becomes, infected, our whole being bends itself to clear up the situation. Doctors call this process of keeping a balance homeostasis.  To quote, ‘The principle of homeostasis is one of the most fundamental of all physiological principles. It may be stated in this way: the body must maintain relative constancy of its chemicals and processes in order to survive

So much for the body; what about the mind? Dr. J. A. Hadfield, one of the pioneers in modern psychotherapy, says in his book Dreams and Nightmares:

‘There is in the psyche an automatic movement toward readjustment, towards an equilibrium, towards a restoration of the balance of the organism. This automatic adaptation of the organism is one of the main functions of the dream, as indeed it is of bodily functions, and of the personality as a whole.

This idea need not cause us much concern, for this automatic self-regulating process is a well known phenomenon of physics and in physiology. The function of compensation which Jung has emphasised appears to be one of the means by which this automatic adaptation takes place, for the expression of repressed tendencies has the effect of getting rid of conflict in the personality. For the time being, it is true, the release may make the conflict more acute as the repressed emotions emerge, and we have violent dreams from which we wake with a start. But by this means the balance of our personality is restored.’

So, the body and mind is self regulating, but what about maturity and spiritual development. What do the experts say about that? Von Franz, writing about Jung’s work, in the book Man and His Symbols, says, ‘Thus our dream life creates a meandering pattern in which individual strands or tendencies become visible, then vanish, then return again. if one watches this meandering design over a long period of time, one can observe a sort of hidden regulating or directing tendency at work, creating a slow imperceptible process of psychic growth – the process of individuation.

‘Gradually a wider and more mature personality emerges, and by degrees becomes effective, and even visible to others. Since this psychic growth cannot be brought about by a conscious effort of will power, but happens involuntarily and naturally, it is in dreams frequently symbolised by the tree, whose slow, powerful, involuntary growth fulfils a definite pattern.

‘But this creative aspect of the psychic nucleus — the Self — can come into play only when the ego gets rid of all purposive and wishful aims and tries to go to a deeper more basic form of existence. The ego must be able to listen attentively and to give itself, without any further design or purpose to that inner urge toward growth.’

Now we have got that under our belt, we can indeed begin to understand the experience of all three people mentioned. If we have an infected throat, the self regulatory process immediately gets to work. Our throat is sore or hurts, being swollen and gorged with blood to fight the infection. We feel ill or in pain, and lack energy, because  all  resources  are used in the emergency. All this discomfort we accept as part of the healing process caused by the self regulatory process.

When poisons or infection has got into our soul – our emotions and thoughts – a similar process takes place. As J. A. Hadfield says, things for the time being get worse, as the problem is pushed out by self-regulation. Supposing, as happened to one of Freud’s early patients, we had been chased by a mad dog as a child, this terror may still be in us as an infection of our soul. The outward sign of this – the visible Nile – was, in the patient, frequent twitching and muscular convulsions. Freud followed these in, and the girl released this terror and memory to the surface and was cured.

Now we can see the amazing simplicity of it all. The self regulatory process is always trying to heal and mature us. In most of us, childhood, or past life problems may hinder this. Nevertheless the self regulation attempts to rid us of these. On the surface, we experience this attempt as trembling, depression, conflict, muscular pains, irrational actions or fears, but because we hold back the self regulatory process through fear or ignorance, these cannot be pushed out of us. We are not willing to go through the original fear or emotion as we are to rest while our throat hurts, yet it is a similar process.

The first woman had unlocked the healing activity of Life through Yoga.  The trembling, swallowing, irritability, were the beginning of some inner poison, shock, fear, coming up. Here is the known Nile. But she had never been helped to ‘let it happen’, and discover the source, and be healed

The second was able to open to the process so well and was able to trace it back to its source in inner space.

The Map of The Inner Journey

Ronnie Laing was a revolutionary psychiatrist, he said, “If the human race survives, future men will, I suspect, look back on our enlightened epoch as a veritable age of Darkness. They will presumably be able to savour the irony of the situation with more amusement than we can extract from it. The laugh’s on us. They will see that what we call “schizophrenia” was one of the forms in which, often through quite ordinary people, the light began to break through the cracks in our all-too-closed minds.”

His insight into the inner journey is summed up here:

“No age in the history of humanity has perhaps so lost touch with this natural ‘healing’ process, that implicates some of the people whom we label schizophrenic. No age has so developed it, no age had imposed such prohibitions and deterrence’s against it, as our own. Instead of the mental hospital, which is a sort of re-servicing factory for human breakdowns, we need a place where people who have traveled further and, consequently, may be more lost than psychiatrists and other sane people, can find their way ‘further’ into inner space and time, and back again. Instead of the ‘degradation’ ceremonial of psychiatric examination, diagnosis and prognostication, we need, for those who are ready for it, an initiation ceremonial, through which the person will be guided with full social encouragement and sanction, into inner space and time, by people who have been there and back again. Psychiatrically this would appear as ex-patients helping future patients to go mad.

What is entailed then is:

i A voyage from outer to inner,

ii from life to a kind of death,

iii from going forward to going back,

iv from temporal movement to temporal standstill,

v from mundane time to aeonic time,

vi from the ego to the self,

vii from being outside (post birth) back into the womb of all things (pre birth).

viii And then subsequently a return voyage from:

ix Inner to outer,

x from death to life,

xi from the movement back to a movement forward,

xii from immortality back to mortality,

xiii from eternity back to time,

xiv from self to a new ego,

xv from a cosmic foetalisation to an existential rebirth.

This process may be one that all of us need, in one form or another. The process could have a central function in a truly sane society.”

Exploring Inner Space

Part 2

The Dark Continent Made Light

 I started going in, my body began to move spontaneously. I was now used to this and let it happen, but was amazed to find myself curling up into the foetal position. It was like directly experiencing my past, and yet standing off and watching at the same time. I was back in the womb. My hand went to my mouth and the thumb went in. The sensations of sucking my thumb were wonderfully intense. I had never realised before how much naked awareness is in the mouth, and how mobile and strong it is.

 Then the first uterine contraction hit me. I was pressed and pushed back with my legs. This was something else I had never thought of before, that the baby takes an active part in the birth by pushing with its legs – I suppose I had thought of it as an unresponsive lump.

But now the contractions became regular. I experienced them as being compressed, as a reflex action of pushing with my legs, and as whimpering. As it became more intense I could see from the detached watching part of me where the problem lay. Instead of entering the birth channel, my head was pushed over my shoulder and the contractions were achieving nothing. I whimpered and found comfort in my thumb.  But after a while release came. My head straightened up and began to emerge. Then suddenly a most wonderful total body sensation like an all over gentle orgasm – my body slipped quickly down and up. I was out. I lay for a while just breathing. Then, like a powerful thrust from within welled up in me the desire to be held and suckled by my mother.

This is one of my own experiences exploring inner space. It is not unusual. In Primal Therapy, Janov brings hundreds of people to meeting their birth experience. He says, in a neurotic society many of us have birth difficulties, therefore it is not unusual to discover them, However, this type of psychotherapy – is not the sort property of the West. Swami Nitya told me that when he visited Ramana Maharshi their eyes met and he was thrown into a state where he regressed right back through his life until he was aware of being in his mother’s womb. Watching, and yet being involved, he was aware of her falling awkwardly. Later he was able to check the accuracy of this experience.

So far I have only mentioned the meeting with problems. True, it is necessary to deal with these, and they arc the part of inner exploration most people shy away from. If we are to become whole, we have to integrate the split off energies and emotions that otherwise lead to depression, ticks, insomnia, unjustifiable anger or violence, withdrawal, fear, lack of creativity, and just plain boredom with self and life.

These are dealt with by the self-regulating process once we open to it. But the exploration of inner space leads to other things also. R D. Laing sums it up in his book `Politics of Experience‘ by saying: “This journey is experienced as going further “in”, as going back through one’s personal life, in and back and through and beyond into the experience of all mankind, of the primal man, of Adam and perhaps even further into the being of animals, vegetables and minerals. In this journey there are many occasions to lose one’s way, for confusion, partial failure, even final shipwreck: many terrors, spirits, demons to be encountered, that may or may not be overcome.” See Jesse Watkins Enlightenment

Laing is a psychotherapist, and he is here talking about those who start the journey as mentally ill people, cast into themselves whether they will it or not. Nevertheless his description is a good one. He has left many things out however. It is also true that while exploring inner space and coming to wholeness by integrating our problems, we may discover who we really are.

Some people find music pouring up from within them, or poetry or love; we can find our place in the cosmic pattern, because we gradually discover our past – not just of this life – and see where we are going . Our relationships with others become deeper and more fulfilling. From surface awareness we slowly develop or grow to being aware of other people’s inner feelings and nature. And – we come face to face with that which has created us.

I have said that some people find song pouring out of them. Well, of course, when our creativity is released by clearing away our psychological barriers, we discover the spring of all arts. If we are an artist, our art is improved, and the same with a musician, sculptor, mother, engineer, doctor, priest, father dancer, actor and son.

Here is a man’s description of a memorable LifeStream experience he had. Never having danced or been to a dance hall in his life, and never learnt to dance, because he had been too shy.

`Then dance came on me like music and meaning flowing through my limbs, and I danced a world. My arms gathered cosmic dust and made me an earth, and I blew upon it great lusty winds giving it the breath of life, infusing it with my soul. Yes, and it was my world, the world of my thoughts, and loves and hates; of my fears and desires, my success and my failure.

‘And when I had’ danced it and made it, there upon my shoulders I bore its burden, and sank beneath its intolerable weight. Panting I lay upon the ground, unable to move. Then I felt the spirit move in me and give me strength, and I rose with the full weight of my world which had crushed me. I rose and I spun it around and around like a ball on a chain and hurled it into space.

`Then suddenly I was aware of the Light. I was standing in the Light of Life. Chains were upon my wrists, the chains of fear and doubt, of humanity, and I lifted them to the Light to be made free. And the Life spoke to me, saying, `Son, you have never been chained, except by your own self’, and the chains fell away. Then the Light laughed. Laughed not at me but with me. I had often thought of Life’s Wisdom, as Love and as Power, but not as intimacy and laughter. Yet here was that intimacy and that loving laughter, and I began to laugh too, at what a fool I had been, at what a fool we all were, chained and shackled by our inadequate little racial and social rituals, and fears and ignorance, and we need not be. And I was filled with love so much I wanted to hold Life in my arms, but I could not hold the formless, so I held my own body and tendered it, and music came out of me singing my love to Life.’

Such radiant experiences do not usually come quickly. For a long time this man had been facing difficult past experiences before he broke through to the light; the dance was a communication from within, teaching him new ways of looking at things. It was also an encouragement to continue his exploration, for such experiences, breaking through the difficulties of the journey, are at first only a break in the clouds revealing the mountain peaks above us.

Some of the dances and songs which arise are original, but many are from ancient cultures which the person has never learned about. As Laing said, we go back into the experience of all mankind, and the treasures of past ages rise in us. Jung found, in exploring the inner world through dreams and his form of meditation called active imagination that archetypal images or universal symbols exist in each of us.

The cross, for instance, is not something the Christians thought up. It is a symbol arising from within widely separate cultures, Stanislaw Grof writes about direct experiences of these, and describes them in his book, When The Impossible Happens. He found them and other wonders within people, the themes and images used in ancient mystery cults of Greece and Egypt, in classical myth, legends and fairy tales, in Chinese and Indian Yoga, in alchemy and  world mysticism, whether Christian, pagan, Sufism or Buddhism. All the ancient teachings could, he found, arise in the modern man from within, without his or her having read, studied or heard of them. All that was necessary was a persevering and open attitude to the Self.

In people’s experience of present day exploration of inner space, much more than archetypal symbols are being unearthed. Now we see there are also archetypal or universal movements, sounds, dances and songs: perhaps also rituals, postures and expressions.

Subud is another path, with a great deal of experience in exploring inner space. Its members see this exploration as a path of spiritual maturing. Husein Rofe, who was instrumental in starting Subud in England in 1956, says in his book, The Path of Subud:

 `My observation of the experiences of other pupils and of myself showed me that among the many types of spontaneously generated phenomena, certain words, postures, melodies and visions seemed to be classical archetypes. They had their parallels in some ancient culture, perhaps one of which the pupil had no previous knowledge.

`There is a tendency among scientists and historians to assume that later Prophets borrowed their messages from their predecessors. But it seems more likely that analogous communications were received by Prophets who contacted identical eternal states, perhaps separated by great intervals of time. The fact that a similar posture of worship is found both in Islam and Shinto may well mean that the origin of both was Divine.’

Explaining some of his own experiences, he says:

`A more interesting series of exercises (the term applied to the Subud discipline) involved the voice, both in speech and song. Suddenly one night I involuntarily sang some Eastern chant which also was suggestive of India, and this was followed by others of Jewish, Islamic, Javanese, Chinese and other types which 1 could not identify. It was as if 1 could turn on an inner radiance with no knowledge of what programme would issue from it.

Fascinated, I noticed how parts of my throat came into play which had never consciously moved before, while my voice followed naturally the difficult oriental scales with which I was unfamiliar, `During these months I had some vivid, symbolic dreams which often, seemed to relate to cosmic experiences of the soul. Sometimes there were visions of cataclysms, or volcanic eruptions, and of the opening of tombs, other pupils of Subud had similar dreams.

This brings us to the difficulties involved in exploring inner space. Too often we are just told the positive, joyful side. But there is also a painful, problem facing aspect. If we go into this realm of experience, and persist in it, we must expect to be changed radically. This, in itself, need not be taken too dramatically. After all, throughout life we have to face cataclysmic changes. Birth shattered one level of experience – school threw us into another – puberty changed us yet again. Radical change is a part of growing. We are no longer the person we were even a few years ago, and the adolescent cannot remain as a child of ten without some illness. Inner exploration is growth promoting; therefore we and our relationships will change. If we are to enter into this journey, we must recognise that.

Also, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Or, put simply, the white hot emotions, or pent up tensions inside us spew out and are released. And don’t be foolish enough to believe you are different from everybody else, and have the calm soul of a saint. You will soon see otherwise, and unless you expect such cleansing and releasing experiences, will be badly shaken. If we expect them, and realise we may be made uncomfortable for a while by them, we will be able to cope with them. But these, like Christian’s burden in `Pilgrim’s Progress’, eventually fall oft. And, holding this in mind enables us to face them.

Another thing which shocks many, is to discover they are barely human. One comes to see in fact, that we are largely possessed by fears, animal tendencies, childhood shocks and ways of relating, unresolved death experiences, archetypal patterns of behaviour, and much else beside. The journey itself gradually integrates and resolves these innumerable elements, and in Jesus’ words; `When thine eye is single, thy body shall be full of light.’ See Animal

But please do not think that I speak as a great explorer or a fully integrated being. I am merely a pilgrim on the journey who loves to tell of the inner lands.  I said the inner journey was a natural event. This is true; it is as natural as puberty. But like puberty or the menopause, it is not a thing we do until we arrive naturally. It would be quite harmful and out of place for an eight-year-old to attempt the relationships we are led into as a teenager – so also with the inner journey.

The only difference is that it is not a particular physical age which prepares us for it. Rather it is a particular maturity of soul, which may be ours as early as eight years old, or never arrive though we live to be a hundred. If we have this maturity the difficulties we will face, and the discipline demanded of us, will come as naturally as leaving home and fending for ourselves when we are physically mature.

Jung said it became almost an imperative for many people in the second half of life to understand the Self. In India the tradition is to undertake the journey inwards after one’s family is self-supporting. Bucke said many people have their greatest experiences between thirty and forty, and that 35 is the peak. But we really cannot generalise in this way. Death eventually forces us all on the exploration of inner space, and for some, death comes early. If we are not acquainted with the voyage before it comes upon us, will it perhaps be harder?

All we can do is to follow our innermost impulses; not our ambition, not our curiosity or desire to be vainglorious, but our deep down impulse to grow and to know. If this leads us to the quest no matter what age we are, then we will meet the difficulties, find the way, and learn to grow into the awareness of inner space. We shall, as the song says, `overcome’.  As for the qualities we need to bring with us, the bibles of the world could be quoted. We could list truthfulness, sincerity, perseverance, trust, love, self-sacrifice and many others. These are certainly very helpful, they are tools we can use on the way. Without truthfulness, for instance, we may so consistently lie to ourself; or we become enmeshed in the illusions rampant in the interior world. Without perseverance we will turn back at the early trials. But these are tools only, and some men have climbed mountains with nothing but strong legs. They had no ice pick, or ropes, or special boots. In fact, Jesus took some of the most unlikely people with him on the inner journey to the kingdom of heaven. A prostitute, simple men and women; and he said sinners and publicans would make the journey easier than the stiff necked and hard of heart and rigid minds. To grow, we must be able to move; and perhaps an open heart, an open mind may be the barest essentials we need.




Exploring Inner Space

Part 3

The Ways In

‘A tigress walks through a beautiful garden. She is happy there with her tiger mate. One day she hears a strange cry from a distant shore. She feels impelled to leave her garden, and dives into a sea of swirling waves. As she swims across the sea a gull swoops down to her. The seagull has tears in her eyes and begs the tigress to go home. But the tigress is wild and wilful and pays no attention to her. It is almost night as she reaches the shore. As she shakes the salt spray from her fur, she becomes a woman. Primitive, naked, ‘and burning with desire for love. On her breasts are tiny drops of golden treacle glistening in the moonlight.

 ‘In the shadows of the beach a man is waiting. He is standing beside a bed of bright blue flowers. In that moment she loves him and runs to put her arms around him and asks him to lick the treacle from her breasts. All is lost to her except the wild longing to feel his hard naked body melt into her. They sink down onto the soft springing bed of flowers. They climb the thrilling ladder of passion to dance together in starry fields of ecstasy.

The Seagull weeps with shame and despair. Lost in the murky waters of self.

But the tigress laughs, what does she care? The bars of reason mean nothing to her. So – In the battle that neither can win My voice cries ‘which shall I keep?’ But not ‘I’, for from the essence of fur and wing The Immortal Hand plucks a single spirit from the deep.

Unknown and unsought passion may be one of the first things we find as we explore inner space. The story of the tigress that metamorphosed into a woman is an example of one of the ways we get into inner space. It is what Jung called Active Imagination, which is a form of meditation.

Nearly all forms of getting into inner space start off with what I previously called the ‘visible Congo’. That is, we start with something which is in consciousness, but which is obviously a product of the unconscious, or projects out of it and can lead us in. The other way is to produce so much pressure in the unconscious that it explodes into consciousness. Drugs and repression achieve this. But today, with the wonderful techniques now at hand, there is no need for anyone to seek inner experience by drugs or self violence.


Rebuilding the Dream

Active imagination usually starts with a dream or fantasy, but not necessarily always: we can induce it by understanding its function. The story of the tigress arose, however, from dreams. The woman in question dreamt of a tigress, very calm, peaceful and quiet, walking in a garden. The friend who was helping her analyse her dreams, suggested there was something amiss or hidden in this quiet tigress. He therefore suggested that the dreamer should try sitting quietly and build up the dream situation again, talk to the tigress and see what happens. It was also explained that the contents of our inner self can only express themselves if for a while at least, we put aside moral judgements, intellectual doubts, preconceived ideas, and simply let the images express in their own way. These images are only our innermost forces, desires, spirit, clothed in symbols. If we hold them rigid by morality or biased opinions, it is like asking a friend to explain themselves to us, yet holding his mouth closed. The negative and positive side of ourselves cannot be expressed while we chain it like this.

Each day for a week she sat and tried this, without any success whatsoever, and as far as she was concerned, she was not holding herself back. But then she had a dream in which an electric fire in her house was not working properly. In her dream, she examined the plug and found there were blocks in it which stopped the electricity passing. She removed these blocks and plugged in the fire. It exploded and the house caught fire. This woke her, and as she lay wondering about the dream, the whole tiger fantasy came to her with tremendous power, revealing passions she had not thought existed. See Active Imagination


Later she wrote:

‘Well, the rosy tint seems to be wearing off my spectacles pretty quickly. It seems I possessed a lot of false virtue. In other words, I thought I was fairly pure and innocent. In many ways though it is a relief to admit these “animal urges” … On the journey inwards I seem to have come across a great depth of love. I don’t mean just love of sex, but a love which needs freedom of expression … Another thing about the journey inwards, when you reach a certain point, it is as if you come to a heavy door marked “Loneliness”. And because you’ve gone so far, it is impossible to turn back. So – you go through it and it clangs shut behind you. I look at my friends and relatives and realise I don’t know them. What are they really like? They seem to have hard shells all around them. They are not real. Or perhaps they do not know themselves? There is a woman down the road who jumps into bed with every Tom, Dick and Harry. I used to look rather down on her in a superior kind of way. I do not mean I now condone her, but now I can see that “there but for the Grace of God go I”.’


Guidance of Others

We find love and deep insight on the inner journey, but it is hard won. We can go on the journey alone: or with a guide who knows the way; or with a group of people. If we go alone, it is best at least to have the guidance of others who have travelled ahead of us. Books are wonderful friends in such lonely travels. And if we go inwards via active imagination or dreams, P. W. Martin’s ‘Experiment in Depth’ is invaluable Likewise, or my book Mind and Movement.

The two basic ways to begin the journey with active imagination is a) with a big dream, or b) with archetypal symbols. A big dream is one in which we are either faced by a problem we do not meet or solve – or contact a symbol of our higher self such as a guru teacher, light, headmaster, captain, etc. … If we have a problem dream, where perhaps we run from a terrifying creature, the way to proceed is to sit quietly, build up the dream images again, either ask the creature what it is, or let it attack and swallow us. Remember these are only images, but they have a lot of power. If we are going about it correctly, the images become alive and the plot is completely spontaneous.

For instance, in one of my own (Active Imagination) sessions, I took up a dream where a large tiger threatened me. In the dream I had hidden behind a door. So, in active imagination I stood before the tiger. It sprang at me and swallowed me whole. As this happened I felt very great rage and temper rise up in me. Being used to the technique, I let this ‘roar’ through me. Suddenly I saw my cousin, several years older than myself, standing before me. He was teasing me, a pre-school child at the time, and my rage was towards him. Gradually it all emptied out and was gone. I was amazed that the rage had been bottled up in me all those years.


Inner Symbols

Using Active Imagination on archetypal symbols means we need not wait for a big dream to occur. Let us take three of the great inner symbols and see how we can employ them. Meeting the guru or holy man is one – climbing a mountain is another – plunging to the sea bed a third.

Start with climbing the mountain. Lie relaxed on a bed or couch and build in your imagination a scene of city life, or countryside, and in the distance a huge and beautiful mountain. Now envisage the details of setting out to the mountain to climb it. Do not hurry. Perhaps do nothing else but this during the first session, and write down the results, and note any subsequent dreams which occur. You must take the journey seriously. Many difficulties come up such as losing interest, being unable to concentrate, having the images slip away or metamorphose, and so on. This is part of the journey and must be faced. In session after session come back to where you left off.

To find the Guru, go for an imagined walk and find your way to a cave, outside which the Guru sits. Approach and ask questions. Here again innumerable difficulties arise. Perhaps you can’t find the cave, or the Guru is not there, or refuses to speak to you! Then of course if he or she does speak, the advice given must be taken seriously. You will have to live it. It is a very disciplined task, but I am not urging you to make the trip, only advising the determined ones. Likewise write down each session, and note dreams, attempting to understand them and integrate them.

The journey to the sea bed is just another aspect of the mountain climb, and should be dealt with in the same way.

Example: I was walking across open moorland, followed by a crowd of people. I was their leader, and was supposed to be leading them to ‘Salvation/God’. The only thing was, I had no idea in which direction salvation lay. We came to a barbed-wire fence and stopped. I was considering the best place to cross, when I noticed a rabbit beyond the fence. My dog was with me, and leapt on the rabbit to kill it as in my previous dreams, but this time the rabbit fought back and bit his foot, and he stood back respectfully, as he would if a cat clawed him. I now saw that the rabbit had turned into a huge and powerful hare, with four pink furry babies. Then the hare spoke to me, saying, “Where are you going?”

I told him we were looking for salvation. He listened and then quietly said, “Turn back. Go back to whence you came.” At this I became irritable and said, who was he to tell us what to do. There were so many so-called authorities telling people how to discover truth, and yet most of them either disagreed or hadn’t found it themselves.

The hare looked at me and suddenly disappeared. Then, in a few moments it reappeared. This impressed me tremendously. I felt it was a sign of complete self-mastery, and knew the hare was the master, the guru. He then said again, “Go back, and carry on with your accustomed tasks. Do not wildly seek the Kingdom of Heaven, for you already have what you seek within you. Your seeking only hides it. For what you seek is yourself. You will find it by living your life each day.” Then we all turned around and went back to our village, and carried on our usual tasks, knowing that in time, we would realise our heaven – find Self through growing.


It was hard for the man to give up his frantic searching and meditations, but he eventually managed it and was led into realising enlightenment. See People’s Experience of LifeStream; Enlightenment

Active Imagination

There are countless ways of getting into inner space and contracting our Source. Yoga, meditation, ritual, prayer, dancing, are but a few. One that is an extension of Active Imagination and is very effective is what I called the Seed Meditation. In classical yoga there is one definition of meditation which states it is of two types. One type is meditation with seed; the other is meditation without seed. The first means we take a subject for meditation, or use a meditation technique such as mantra or breathe control, or have a goal. So in this type we have a starting point to grow from, a central theme, or an organising discipline. But meditation without seed is the opposite. There is only being, existing, without goal or aim or focal discipline, except freeing oneself from any form or direction which arises.

About forty years ago, while leading a weekly meditation group, I took the first type of meditation literally. I gave each of the group a seed to meditate on. The idea to do this had arisen because I believe one of the main reasons meditation has been used through the ages is as a means to awaken new types of perception.

Seeing Deep

So this early exercise is to help us become aware of responses in our being within and beyond the usual direction we focus our attention. That is, when we seek information we usually direct attention to our senses, our tissue reactions as in emotions, our thoughts, our memories or conclusions from them – but we seldom note our postural response, temperature change, alteration in our energy level, fantasy eruption, sexual impulse, inclination of will; and most important, the composite experience which can only emerge when each is allowed to add its dimension of experience.

The first step is to obtain a seed. Any sort of seed will do. But it may be helpful if it is something like a pea, on which the ‘germ’, the point from where it grows, is visible. Then look at the seed in as many ways as you can, i.e. as a piece of matter, as food, as a shape, as a feel, as a smell, under a magnifying glass, and so on.

Then think about what you have seen and what you already know. Consider what you can learn from it. In what ways are there any similarities between it and you (i.e. you were a seed in your mother’s womb?). Think about stages of growth. And take your time.

Next consider what you feel about the seed. Are you feeling disinterested amazed – curious – confused – empty? Take time over those phases of the meditation. Do not attempt to do it all on one day. It may even help to plant the seed on wet cloth or against the inside of a glass jar where you can see it swell and grow.

The next phase of the meditation needs a particular setting. The meditation is a means of opening to all of the aspects of our being in a way we may not have done before. So we need a setting where we can give attention to what is occurring in our being; where we can explore our spontaneous responses and not be disturbed. The place needs to be warm enough to be comfortable in, and with a blanket or something soft underfoot. Clothing needs to be loose enough to move around in easily

When you are ready, stand in the middle of your blanket. If possible, feel thanks to Life and its processes for your existence – and toward fellow human beings for their shared work and thought. The meditation has now begun. From the feelings of thanks, turn your attention to the idea of a dried seed. It can be any sort of seed, but preferably the type you have already considered and maybe planted. But this time we are not thinking about the seed, just holding the idea of it gently in mind. We are leaving thought behind and exploring another way of experiencing.

Without trying to be completely rational or scientific, what might it feel like to be a seed? Does it feel like a seed to simply stand with arms by sides? Does it feel like a dried up seed with arms raised above ones head? Watching this subtle sense of what feels unlike or like the seed, experiment with body positions until you find a position which feels for you like an expression of a dried seed. There is no ‘right’ position, only what feels right for you.

Don’t struggle with this meditation – enjoy it. Once you feel reasonably satisfied with your position, imagine what a dried seed might feel like inside. Is it waiting, sleeping, unconscious? Whatever you imagine it to be, allow your own inner condition to be as nearly like it as you can. Then check over details. Do the limbs and head feel right for a dried seed? Can you allow yourself to dwell in the inner condition?

The important step

The next stage is very important, so do not move into it until you have satisfied yourself with these first stages. Next we move gently into what may be called imaginative, spontaneous, or intuitive meditation. To do this we allow our body and feelings to fantasise or imagine, just as we have done so far in finding the position of the seed, but more flowingly now.

So, give your body and mind permission to express themselves freely and without prior consideration, in expressing the seed receiving rain in warm soil. The seed absorbs the moisture and the process of growth is triggered. The seed puts out root and stem and becomes a seedling, then progresses through its whole cycle of growth, blossoms, seeds, and dying. See The Keyboard Condition; Life’s Little Secrets

Do not think that you have to do anything, or try to act out what it is like to grow as a seed. Wait for something that comes spontaneously. When doing this give yourself at least fifteen to thirty minutes to complete it. Unlike many forms of meditation this is without struggle, and usually the whole sequence of growth flows out of us as we allow our being the freedom to express.

And there are surprises in it too. Many people find the meditation has its own dynamic, and they can only grow to a certain stage, or the unfolding story throws up unplanned details. These details of how our own growth in the meditation occurs are relevant to our own life situation. For instance, finding it difficult to put down roots might point to your difficulty in staying in any one place, and so on.

The meditation is an exercise in allowing our own unconscious feelings and wisdom about yourself and life to express more freely. So it can usefully be practised regularly. I would not suggest every day for most people, but certainly once or twice a week. Each period of meditation will produce something slightly different, enlarging on or continuing the theme previously dealt with. Only a personal experience of this amazing ability to produce the new can convince one of the creativity we each have within us.

Variation for the Group

There is another form of this seed meditation which is a great pleasure to use, and is helpful in developing a new ease and warmth in relationships. I have used it with a number of groups, and if it is led up to slowly and time given for people to feel their way in without a sense of rush or pressure, it leaves them feeling much more in contact with themselves and others.

This is basically the same as already described but done as a small group of three, four, or at the most, five. The members of the group need to have already experienced the seed meditation done individually before they attempt it as a group. This is not absolutely necessary, but it helps. It helps also if each person has at least once practised two other meditations – the Earth and Water meditation.

These are done in just the same way as the seed meditation. The instructions I usually give are as follows: Stand in a relaxed open manner, and hold in mind the idea or word ‘earth’ (or water). Just as you did with the seed meditation explore what postures and/or movements express for you the feelings and ideas connected with the earth from which all growing things arise. Allow yourself to explore the meditations, letting spontaneous fantasy or movements to arise if they occur.

After the individuals have established themselves in these three (seed – earth – water) meditations they come together as a group and decide who is going to be the seed, and who earth and water. I usually suggest that when they are ready, the seed takes up the dried seed position and waits for the stimulus toward growth to arise out of the relationship with the persons in the role of earth and water. When and if this occurs, then the course of their meditation is the same as doing the seed alone, but with added dimensions. How, in terms of human relationship in the meditation, does the growing seed take up the water and minerals and lift them to the sun and build a form?

To the earth and water their meditation is similar but reversed. How do they penetrate with water and warmth, in human terms, the enfolded seed, to release its growth? And then, how to enter into the life forces of the plant as it unfolds?


Some people are at first reticent or have never explored these possibilities in human relationships, unless perhaps they trained in drama or dance. If the meditation is entered into enthusiastically though, it becomes a learning and growing experience. The seed grows and releases warm feelings and pleasures in its own unfoldment that touch the earth and water and involve them in the drama of its own experience.

It is very rewarding and helpful for the group to share what they experienced after the meditation has finished. The actual meditation should be entirely non-verbal – although some groups are vocal in that they feel the expression of sounds, humming or emotive sound a part of their experience. But the sharing of the experience at the end is a release and completion of what went before. Then, the group can allow someone else to be the seed.

The seed meditation used in these ways is an extremely simple way of starting or developing one of the most important aspects of yoga -namely, allowing the emergence into consciousness of material from our wider awareness. It does this in a gentle way acceptable to a large number of people. This leads to a gradual expansion of consciousness as we touch more parts of our nature, bringing about spiritual growth.

We learn to work with the spontaneous process in us, active also in dreaming, which brings to consciousness parts of ourselves otherwise ignored. As we integrate piece after piece of our inner life we literally grow as a person. We absorb into our waking self more of our personal past, more of our heritage as a mammal and life process, more of the treasures of culture and spirit left us by humanity. Our life of spirit has begun.

Being a seed in a group gives us a social opportunity to receive a sort of powerful healing we seldom receive in our society – the healing of touch. Laying on of hands has always been recognised as a way of helping a tired or sick body back to health. Modern doctors and nurses are now recognising the importance of this. They are learning to hold patients’ hands, to be warm, to touch. In the seed meditation the earth and water can gently relax and open the seed with their touch. So the meditation is one of healing as well as growing.

The group meditation is of enormous help in learning to touch, to allow into ones own experience, a part of someone else’s inner life, and to help another human being begin the miraculous process of exploring the height, depth and music of their own being. So make yourself a seed bed and grow a little.

Greatest Cumulative Experience

What I have called exploring inner space, or discovering spiritual maturity, of all the methods mentioned, I feel that watching and exploring your dreams is the easiest and an excellent path.

Dreams are a wonderful way of really exploring and understanding your dream. I have taught it to many people and groups with remarkable results.

The way of working known as the Peer Dream Group came about from our experience that dreams are largely self explanatory if approached in the right way. An exterior expert or authority is not necessary for a profound experience of and insight into dreams if certain rules are respected and used. The dreamer is the ultimate expert on their own dream, and when treated as such, and supported in their exploration of their dream drama, they can powerfully explore and manifest the resources of their inner life.

Fundamentals of Practice – The suggestions that follow have arisen from thirty-five years of dream work. They have been particularly tested with a number of small groups, and are usually employed with groups of three to five people, but often with just two people working together.

The foundations of this practice rest on an understanding, or a standpoint accepted or taken by the listener and perhaps the dreamer. It is that the person before you is an expression of life. Let’s forget anything about dream theory, because the very first step is to form an attitude to what is in front of you. Here is a being, a little chunk of life, and at the core of this living being, this living process, a process that has developed a sense of self, is the stuff of life. It is the stuff that makes heroes and saints, mothers, fathers, friends and foes. It is the essence from which arises the whole thrust of life. It is the living core of creative possibilities. If you look around you at what life does, you can see it can be a multitude of things. It can manifest as a lion or a flea, a giraffe or a tree. It is, at the same time, both a galaxy and an amoeba. And here it is in front of you as a living being.

At the core is the freedom to choose

At the core of this being is that freedom to choose — that freedom that life expresses in its multiplicity of forms. Another word for that freedom is potential or creativity. So at the core of the person in front of you lies that potential, that creativity, that problem solving ability that life itself expresses. But perhaps with this being in front of you that freedom, that creative ability, that potential, has got lost, forgotten or buried in some way. So our work as the listener is to help them remember, help them find their way, to rediscover or uncover their creativity and problem solving ability. That creativity and ability to solve problems is always there inside them. That wonderful ability belongs to them. So it is not for us to solve their problem or to find the way for them. It is for us to help them uncover those possibilities within themselves.

Finding a partner

Step One – Find a partner you can relax with who can give sympathetic and non intrusive support. Agree with the partner that any confidences disclosed during the dream exploration will not be told to others.

Tell the Dream

Step Two – The dreamer tells the dream. It is sometimes helpful for them to tell it in the first person present, as if they were experiencing the dream as they are telling it. The telling of the dream can include any relevant information, such as immediate associations, or events directly linked with the dream. The telling is not simply for the listeners, but for the dreamer. In telling the dream with skill, the dreamer discovers more about the dream and themselves.

Example – This is my dream. I am driving my car, alone. I can see a female friend and stop to offer her a lift. I partly want her to be impressed by my new car. She looks at me. Now she tells me she doesn’t want a lift and I am watching her walk off with a man I do not know. ………………. I have recently bought the car I am driving in the dream. I like it very much and like to have my friends ride in it. (Joel)

Ask Questions

Step Three – The helpers now ask the dreamer questions to clarify for themselves the imagery and drama of the dream. The questions at this point should not be to explore the dream, but simply to gain a clear image of the dream.

Example – Q: You didn’t describe the street you were driving along. Was it a shopping centre or quiet place?

A: It was quite a crowded road, with people, not so many cars. I think this was also connected with my feeling of wanting to be seen in my new car.

Q: Are you attracted to your female friend?

A: Yes.

Explore a Dream Character or Object

Step Four – The dreamer next chooses one of the characters or images in the dream to explore. The character can be themselves as they appear in the dream, or any of the other people or things. It is important to realise that it does not matter if the character is someone known or not, or whether they are young or old. The character needs to be treated as an aspect of their dream, and not as  if they were the living person exterior to the dream.

In choosing an image to work with, such as a tree, cat, place, or an environment like the street in the example dream, it must again be treated as it appears in the dream, not as it may appear in real life.  One can take any image from the dream to work with.

Stand in the Role of Character  or Object

Step Five – The dreamer stands in the role of the character or image they are using. So if they chose to be the car in the example dream, they would close their eyes, enter into the feeling sense and imagery of the dream, and describe him or herself as the car.

Example – I am a car. Joel has recently purchased me, and he is driving me, largely because he feels I will help him gain respect from other people. I am quite a large car, and have a lot of power. But even with all this energy I do not make my own decisions. I am directed by Joel’s desires and wishes, and enable him to fulfil them more readily.

From this short description it can already be seen there is a suggestion the car represents Joel’s emotional and physical energy, directed by his desires and decisions.

Question the Dreamer about the Role He/She is in

Step Six – The helpers now ask questions of the dreamer who stays in the role of the dream character or image. The questions must be directly related to the role the dreamer is in. So Joel, in the role of the car, could be asked – Are you a second-hand or new car? Who was driving you before Joel? Do you feel that Joel handles you well? What does it feel like to be directed where to go all the time? Do you have places you would like to go?

Joel should be helped to remain in role. If he slips out of it and stops describing himself as the car, gently remind him he is speaking as the car. Also the questions should be asked with an awareness of time necessary for the dreamer’s adequate response. So do not hurry the questions to the point where the dreamer cannot properly explore his or her associations and feeling responses. If emotions are stimulated by a question allow the dreamer to discover what the emotion is connected to. By this is meant that an emotion is usually a response to something, and therefore gives information concerning what is moving us deeply.

If a line of questioning is producing promising results, do not lead the dreamer off in another direction. For instance Joel may have been asked if he wants to get out of his car and follow the woman, and show some feelings about this. A question such as ‘Are there any shops in this street’? would take him completely away from such feelings.

To help ask relevant questions it is useful to be interested in the dreamer and their dream. Have a questioning mind in relationship to the dream. So do not have already fixed opinions about it. Be like a detective gradually unfolding the information and emotions behind the dream.

As the dreamer answering the questions, let your helpers also know what you feel in response to their questions, or what memories or associations occur when a particular part of the dream is being explored.

Example – Joel: When you asked me if I want to follow the woman I immediately realised that in real life I am holding myself back from letting my feelings about her show.

Summarise What You Have Learnt

Step Seven – When you have come to the end of what you can ask about the dream image, the dreamer should be asked to summarise what they have understood or gathered from what they have said or felt in response to the questions. To summarise effectively gather the essence of what you have said about the symbol and express it in everyday language. Imagine you are explaining to someone who knows nothing about yourself or the dream. Bring the dream out of its symbols into everyday comments about yourself.  The helpers should reflect back to the dreamer what they have said, not their own opinions of the dream differing from what the dreamer has said. See Dream Processing, attached.

Example – A man dreamt about a grey, dull office. When he looked at what he said about the office, he rephrased it by saying, “The dream depicts the grey unimaginative social environment I grew up in after the second world war. It shaped the way I now think, and I want to change it toward more freedom of imagination and creativity.

Work through each of the symbols  in the dream within the available time.

A dream that leaves the dreamer unsatisfied, or in a difficult place, can usefully be approached by using the technique of carrying the dream forward..

The three following techniques describe how to carry the dream forward, how to use the body in dream exploration, and how to use dialogue between dream characters. These are extremely useful tools to occasionally use in peer dream work.

Carrying the dream forward

Imagine  yourself in the dream and continue it as a fantasy or daydream. Alter the dream in any way that satisfies. Experiment with it, play with it, until you find a fuller sense of self expression. It is very important to note whether any anger or hostility is in the dream but not fully expressed. If so, let yourself imagine a full expression of the anger. It may be that as this is practised more anger is openly expressed in subsequent dreams. This is healthy, allowing such feelings to be vented and redirected into satisfying ways, individually and socially. In doing this do not ignore any feelings of resistance, pleasure or anxiety. Satisfaction occurs only as we learn to acknowledge and integrate resistances and anxieties into what we express. This is a very important step. It gradually changes those of our habits which trap us in lack of satisfaction, poor creativity or inability to resolve problems. See Secrets of Power Dreaming

Example: When my husband died, for quite a few times I had this funny dream. I was walking along a field and saw a lot of sheep guiding me, and I followed them. Suddenly they disappeared into a cave. I went in the cave and a row of mummies were there. One was wearing a medallion on a chain round its neck. The dream recurred quite often. One day Tony came to me and I told him the dream. He asked me to sit in a chair and relax, which I did. Then he said for me to go to the cave, and in my relaxed state I went and walked to the mummy with the medallion. Then he said take off the bandage from the top. As I unwound it the face of my husband was uncovered. I screamed and screamed and came out of the relaxation. Tony then said now let him go. I have never had that dream since. Betty E. 

Use the body to discover dream power

The brain sends impulses to all the muscles to act on the movements we are making while in the dream. This is observable when we wake ourselves by thrashing about in bed, or kicking and shouting. A part of the brain inhibits these movements while we sleep.

The important factor is that a dream is more than a set of images and emotions, it is also frequently a powerful physical activity and self expression. If we explore a dream sitting quietly talking to a friend, even if we allow emotions to surface, we may miss important aspects of our dream process. Through physical movement the dream process releases tensions and deeply buried memories that are stored in our body. These do not release and heal by simply talking about them.

It is often enough to realise this aspect of dream exploration for such spontaneous movements to emerge when necessary. By being aware of the body’s need to occasionally be involved in expression of dream content, we may catch the cues and let these develop. Frequently all you need to do is to let the body doodle or fantasise while exploring a dream. Jung suggested this technique for times when the person was stuck in intellectual speculation. To practice it you can take a dream image and let the hands spontaneously doodle, watching what is gradually mimed or expressed. When you have gained skill doing this, let the whole body take part in it. This can unfold aspects of dreams that the other approaches might no help with. See: sleep movements. A fuller description of this process is contained in my book Liberating the Body.

Have a dialogue between two characters or objects

Every part of a dream, whether an object, person or animal, is alive with our own intelligence. Each part has been created out of ourselves in some way, and depicts some area of our own total being. We can therefore talk with them. Such dialogue is of great importance and very revealing.

To do this, imagine yourself as one of the characters, animals or objects in your dream. It may help at first to have two chairs – one empty and one you are sitting in. The character or object of your dream is in the empty chair. When you are ready to be that character move from your chair, sit in the empty chair and speak as that character. To answer or question the character from your own identity, move to the original chair and speak from your own character.

Be playful and curious in doing this. Question the character, and when you move to that role, let whatever your feelings are as that character motivate what you say and do. Exploring your dream in this way unfolds a great deal of information that would otherwise remain unconscious. It also enables you to make real changes in unconscious attitudes or habits, as you are literally dialoguing with areas of character patterning or programming, and can change them.

Example: When I spoke as the new born baby of my dream I really felt as if this was me, newly born. I had had a difficult birth and my reaction was that I wanted nothing to do with life. I wanted to stay curled up like an egg, not getting involved in the exterior world.

The adult observing me could see how this aspect of my inner life had led me to be withdrawn from social activity all my life, so I explained this to the baby me, saying – I need you to be ready to meet the world. You are a part of me and if you continue to withdraw I lack the enthusiasm to get involved with other people.

Back as the baby I felt totally vulnerable and didn’t want to take any risks – No I don’t want to come out of the egg.

As the adult again I said – Look, if you remain curled up this is more of a gamble than actually getting out and taking risks in life. Just lying there anything can get you. I had recently seen a film about baby turtles hatching an rushing to the sea. Some of them got eaten by seagulls, but the faster they were the less likely to be caught. So I explained this to the baby me.

As the baby this really got to me. I felt a change in me and a readiness to begin the journey of meeting life outside the womb.

This change really made a difference to my everyday activities. A lifelong habit of being introverted gradually dropped away. Trevor P.

New Life

Whatever path you choose do not enter on it lightly. It will be a long path with many twistings, many ups and downs, many joys and sorrows. It will require all your fortitude, courage, genius, to remain on it; or as much to leave it, for it is like marriage and not lightly to be tossed aside once begun in earnest.

Just as adolescence led to the possibility of marriage and parenthood, so the inner journey leads us into a new life also. It makes us a member of not just a family, a nation, a creed or a skin colour, but of the human race.

As ChristopherHills says in ‘Nuclear Evolution’, when molecules come together to form a cell, a whole new dimension of experience is arrived at. And when cells form a multi-celled body, again there is a leap into a higher consciousness, with expanded abilities. So when individual men and women reach through from individual awareness to cosmic awareness we begin to have a united world. Just as millions of cells in the body express one will, so the next leap in evolution is towards this unity in diversity, which will expand human awareness as much as multi cellular unity expands from single cell life. See LifeStream

Like the pearl of great price, it requires all, yet gives all. But remember as you tread it, even if. alone, thousands are ahead of you, be humble – thousands are behind – be helpful: and, God By Ye…

A great way is to become acquainted with the wise man/woman, the guru or shaman figures who arise in your dreams

An experience Jung had when communicating with an Indian versed in yoga:

‘You don’t mean the commentator on the Vedas who died centuries ago?’ I asked. 

‘Yes, I mean him he said, to my amazement. 

‘Then you are referring to a spirit?’ I asked. 

‘Of course it was his spirit,’ he agreed. 

At that moment I thought of Philemon. (Jung’s ghostly companion.)

‘There arc ghostly gurus too,’ he added. ‘Most people have living gurus. But there always some who have a spirit for teacher’

Shirdi Sai Baba stated –

“I shall remain active and vigorous even after leaving this earthly body. I am ever living to help those who come to me and surrender, and seek refuge in me. If you cast your burden on me I will bear it.”

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved